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The power of exploration within our yoga practice

This month in my classes I have been working with the theme of EXPLORATION.

January is a time for new beginnings. A whole new year to be explored and lived, and while this offers fruitful ground for the theme of exploration, it is concerning to me how negative much of the messaging is about this time of year.

So, in my own life, my yoga practice and my classes, I decided to dedicate this month to simple exploration: investigation without the need for a goal.

Rather than heading for a 'beach' body, perfect handstand, or the perfect journalling practice, I have been leaning into the messiness of exploring movement, creativity and relaxation.

Including reintroducing social media. For why I took a break from it in the first place, see my blog here.

Why explore messily?

Yoga as a modality offers us many ways to get in touch with our inner explorer. Investigation and messy exploration are rooted in yoga philosophy.

The Yamas and Niyamas originate from an ancient yoga text: ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’. This written code of conduct offers those who practice advice on how to take yoga off the mat and into our lives.

Two of them in particular advise us to explore within our yoga practice, and how to do so:

1. The Yama of Aparigraha or non-attachment.

2. The Niyama of Svadhyaya or self-study

Practice for the love of practicing...

Non-attachment to outcome is a lovely invitation to explore our lives messily and for the sheer joy of it!

This is true for us on the mat or the meditation cushion, and all of life. We must practice for the love of practicing. Progress in our practice is encouraging, but we should avoid getting attached to it.

Something that yoga teaches us is we are always changing. Nothing stays the same for very long, including our bodies!

Every single time we step onto our mat is an opportunity to explore our body and how it is today. It will not be exactly how we left it yesterday, and it might not be the same tomorrow.

For me this has looked like starting running in January. I am not a runner by nature, but I wanted to start something that I could do without caring about the final destination!

Studying the nature of the self

Svadhyaya or self-study is a Niyama that encourages us to recognise our habits, patterns and thoughts.

Often, we rush around, listening to our ego mind: doubts, fears, conditioning and old habits. Some people refer to this as subconscious, or our 'small self'.

Yoga asks us to slow down, become aware of our bodies and breath, and in doing so notice who are are underneath the noise.

The more we explore ourselves, with a non-attached mind, the more we can uncover our deepest and most profound selves.

In my own practice I have introduced more MFR (myofascial release - see my article here) as a practice to study my nature in stillness.

For me, MFR uncovers areas of my body in need of attention, and therefore lets me study my body in new ways.

You could ask yourself what practices allow you to slow down in order to listen. Perhaps it's yoga, meditation or running. Or maybe you haven't discovered it yet! That's ok, just keep exploring.

As always, thank you for being here and stay curious!

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